From the Sounds Obvious, Bears Repeating department:

You can To improve the clarity and readability of your text: if you c Cut it by 2o percent.

Seriously. We all over-write. You can make your written content instantly more readable -- and effective -- by chopping out 20 percent of your words. And you can do it without diluting the message.

How to make your writing more concise

I took 6 minutes to revise a blog post from a couple weeks ago to see how quickly I could tune up my own copy (see below). I used the side-by-side technique so I could easily make sure I wasn't losing valuable content. I think the second version is much better. Don't you?

Now it's your turn. Use something you've just written, like a blog post or email -- anything. Do a quick word count and figure the 20 percent. Then quickly re-read what you've written, taking out:

  • Anything that isn't absolutely necessary
  • Anything that slows you down as a reader
  • Anything that distracts from the main idea

The easy pickin's are things like introductory words and phrases and compound verbs. Oh, and qualifying statements. (For more revision strategies, read this)

Even if you can't make a 20 percent reduction, your copy -- and your readers -- will benefit from your efforts.

Get more writing tips and strategies here.